Trump signs waiver keeping US embassy in Tel Aviv -- for now

Children in the shelter at Kibbutz Dan during the Six Day War

President Donald Trump will not for the time being move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite a campaign pledge to do so.

Signing the waiver would delay for another six months any relocation of the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a key promise Trump made on the presidential campaign trail throughout 2016.

Zomlot says: "We are ready to start the consultation process with the USA administration".

While there have been divisions among Trump's aides on the issue, the view that appears to have prevailed is that the United States should keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for now to avoid angering the Palestinians, Arab governments and Western allies while the president seeks to nurture peace efforts.

But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when, it added.

The waiver has been signed by every USA president since 1995, and it is valid for six months at a time.

For nearly 70 years, the us embassy has been based in Tel Aviv - along with embassies of almost all other countries with relations to Israel - because the USA has wanted Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations to determine the final status of Jerusalem.

According to several people familiar with the administration's internal debates - both in Israel and America, all of whom asked to remain anonymous - the group urging Trump to refuse to sign the waiver and finally move the embassy is headed by Bannon himself.

Jerusalem's status is one of the most emotionally charged matters separating the Israelis and Palestinians.

One senior administration official said the final decision hasn't been officially made, but that paperwork to both keep the embassy in Tel Aviv and move it to Jerusalem has been presented to the West Wing for Trump's approval. "We are serious and genuine about achieving a just and lasting peace".

Two competing groups of senior Trump administration officials have been waging war over this issue for over four months now, since the transition period before Trump took office. "The president is still committed to moving the embassy", one USA official said.

But press secretary Sean Spicer says Trump still intends to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. "For him, it is a matter of when not if the United States embassy is moved to Jerusalem". The announcement postpones the president's campaign promise to move diplomatic operations to Jerusalem.

Former President Barack Obama renewed the waiver in December, setting off a six-month clock for Trump. Israel declared the city its undivided capital but the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. He was in the process of negotiating peace with the Palestinians, who also had political claims to Jerusalem.

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